Out here in this here swamp, them mosquito’s git to swarming just as soon as the sun starts a setting. Then, boy, ya better watch out, ’cause if enough of them git a-hold of you, they’s apt to carry you away. But sometimes you just gotta put up with a little misery if ya wantsto make a few dollars. I sort of got talked into telling this here tale, so I wanna get it right, and tell it just like my Granny told it to me.
My family dates back to them English what come over here long time past, and they took a liking to the place and decided to stay on. I reckon that was good, ’cause otherwise I wouldn’t be here now, would I? But let me tell you this, my Granny never told a tale in her life, so what I’m a-goin to tell you is the truth, as it was told to me.
Way back a long time ago, my kin had only been here-a-bout for a short spell, and there were still a whole bunch of the native people living here. The swamp was much bigger then, too. And the deer and ‘possums and groundhogs were so plentiful you could almost walk out your door and just pick one up. Was that way with the fishes too.
Trouble lived here in this ol’ swamp, too. Seems it was here long before any people was here, and I guess that is for sure the truth. The native people had a name for it, but they was afraid to say it out loud too much. They called it something like “Wachateekee”. My people, they just called it the “Swamp Witch.” My Granny told me it was one ugly thing, so ugly in fact that nobody could look it in the eyes, for if they did, they turned into a stump.
See them stumps over yonder? They’s all kinfolk of mine. I learned as a youngun ya don’t chop down a stump. No Siree, ’cause it might be your kin. Any way, it was getting so bad, what with the Swamp Witch a scaring everyone to stumps, the settlement was getting smaller and smaller. No one knowed what could be done to stop that ol’ witch.
Time passed, and one morning, the wife of the head of the village was brushing her hair, and while lookin’ in the mirror, she said to herself, “Yikes, I look like a witch today.” Well, when she realized what she had said, she knowed she had found the answer to their problem. She woke her husband and told him to call a meeting of the village, including the native people too.
When everybody got to the meeting, the wife told them what she had discovered about the mirror, and how they could use it to get rid of the witch, once and for all. All they had to do was get someone brave enough to get the witch to look in the mirror, and when she stared at herself, she would turn into a stump.
After a whole bunch of hemmin’ and a hawing one of the native people, “He who Lives by the Great Swamp,” said that he would do this most dangerous thing. He took the mirror and headed around to the far edge of the swamp, where there was a path of sorts. This was usually where that witch liked to come sneaking out of the woods to scare people. He waited under the shade of a big ol’ tree most of the day, watching the path for a sign.
It weren’t too long after midday when there was a loud cracking and scrabbling, and the witch thing appeared, right in the middle of the path. “He who Lives by the Great Swamp” jumped out in front of the witch, holding the mirror up to her face. She stared at the picture of herself in the mirror, screeched and moaned, and bamm! That was it. She had done turned into a big ol’ stump.
Now, you can believe this story, or not. But as I said earlier, my Granny never told a story that weren’t true, and I was just tellin’ what was told to me. I got another story that’s also true, and I’ll tell it next time you come by.